July jobless rate climbs

Published 5:00 am Friday, September 1, 2006

Lincoln County’s unemployment rate for July inched upwardsslightly in statistics released this week from the MississippiDepartment of of Employment Security, but the increase was expectedfor this time of year, officials said.

“It’s the same seasonal trends we see state- and nationwide inJuly,” said David Holland, director of the Brookhaven branch officeof MDES. “All rates rose slightly.”

Rate increases in July are traditionally a trickle effect fromJune, when thousands of non-contract school employees and studentsseeking summer jobs continue to enter the job market, he said.

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Lincoln County’s rate of 7.6 percent in June rose to 7.8 percentin July.

However, Holland said, the county’s growth in employment sinceJuly 2005, coupled with the loss of approximately 750 people in thelabor force, has had a great influence on the unemployment rate.The rate for July 2005 was 8.6 percent.

The slight increase in the unemployment rate from June did notaffect the county’s state ranking. Lincoln and Amite countiescontinue to post the lowest rates in Southwest Mississippi, rankingthem at 23rd and 24th respectively. Amite County posted a 7.9percent rate for July.

Pike County posted the third-lowest rate in SouthwestMississippi for July at 8.3 percent, trailed by Copiah County (8.6percent, 36th) and Franklin County (9.7 percent, 50th).

Pike County showed an unemployment increase from June to July ofhalf a point. In the same period, Copiah County and FranklinCounty’s rate rose by .8 percent.

Lawrence County shot into double-digit unemployment in July,rising from 9.0 percent and a state ranking of 48th, to thismonth’s 10.5 percent and a state ranking of 57th.

Industry officials say the release of approximately 85 employeesin July by the Georgia-Pacific Monticello Mill, which has undergonea reorganization after being purchased by Koch Industries, likelyplayed a role in the unemployment spike.

“That probably had something to do with it,” said Bob Smira,director of the Lawrence County Community Development Association.”That’s the only real thing I could surmise as a contributingfactor in July. I’m sure it had some impact.”

Statewide, unemployment rose by three-tenths of a point to 8.3,a full point higher than one year ago, while the national rate rosefrom 4.8 percent in June to 5 percent in July.

Job gains were reported in durable goods manufacturing andtransportation. The largest job losses were reported in state andlocal government and professional, scientific and technicalservices, according to MDES.

Holland said August rates should show improvement as studentsand non-contract school employees exit the labor force to return toschool.